Our accommodation provides the necessary step between leaving home and community living
Cambian Whinfell School's curriculum is designed to enable our young people to build self-esteem and achieve their full potential.
The school day is structured and active, including many opportunities for physical activity and therapeutic input. All of our classes are small; no more than three students and a one to one staff ratio where appropriate. Students have individualised timetables which are informed by their education, health and care plan (EHCP) and by an understanding of their own individual learning style. Where necessary staff are skilled in using a wide range of visual supports and prompts. Autism specific awareness is central to the delivery of teaching and learning and all students have Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) which are regularly reviewed.
Our students all access the national curriculum and most sit at least 8 GCSEs, some accessing the highest grades. We also offer a wide range of accredited courses for example through ASDAN (Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network). Post-16 students may remain within the school to continue their studies and we can currently offer A levels in English, maths, English, geography, chemistry, and art.
We also have excellent links with a local further education College where students can be supported to not only access a wider range of opportunities but also become used to working alongside peers in a busier, more mainstream environment. This can be an important milestone towards independence and bolsters self-esteem. Some students will attend on a part or full-time basis depending on their choice of subjects or even as an evening course. For some of our young people to avoid ‘falling off the edge’ at 16 and to continue to be academically challenged, the college link is really important.
Work experience is crucial in developing awareness of the world outside the ‘Whinfell Bubble’ and of building resilience. We have a robust programme which is individually tailored and we work closely with the local careers service to prepare our young people for life beyond school.
Benefits of Therapeutic Outdoor Learning
Research evidence increasingly suggests many benefits of spending time in the natural world for young people’s psychological and physical well-being, including:
✓ Reduced stress
✓ Better concentration
✓ Improved feelings of well-being
✓ Problem solving skills
✓ Team work
✓ Development of social skills
Students at Cambian Whinfell School enjoy TOL, which in itself is reason enough for participating. The benefits as described above have a positive impact on their engagement with classroom-based learning where they demonstrate improved confidence and better independent learning skills. Through engaging in TOL, young people develop positive relationships with each other and the adults who support them. They enjoy a wide range of adventures which provide a useful collection of shared experiences which they recall and talk about together long after the events have taken place. Engaging in TOL highlights strengths and abilities and ensures that all of the young people at Cambian Whinfell School experience success.
Dr Joanna Simm EdPsychD PGCE CPsychol AFBPsS
Chartered Educational Psychologist
Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society
Alongside this we recognise the immense psychological benefits for our young people of spending time in the outdoors. It is a great environment for developing risk awareness and, in a carefully supported way, of pushing students out of their comfort zones without unduly raising anxiety.